Save the planet while lifting fellow humans out of poverty

Save the planet while lifting fellow humans out of poverty
Let’s try regenerative capitalism
By Jock Gill and Richard C. Bell
May 31 2015

The world we live in today is a world dominated by degenerative capitalism and its monotonic metric of “profit maximization.”

What else should we call an economic system that continuously degrades our oceans, soils, lakes, rivers, forests and atmosphere, while leaving billions of our fellow human beings unhealthy and impoverished?

Degenerative capitalism functions as it does because of an insidious twist in the rules economists use to calculate costs and benefits from our actions in the natural world. In a sleight-of-hand that would make a three-card Monte dealer proud, economists define these environmental costs as “externalities,” and remove them from the books. Refusing to put these costs on the books allows economists defending this system based on extraction and exploitation to claim that we are living in the best of all possible worlds.

“Capitalism” is, of course, not a monolithic, universal, never-changing system. There are no stone tablets with a 3,000-year-old set of immutable rules. To the contrary, one of capitalism’s greatest strengths has been its malleability, as governments and corporations have continually altered the rules of capitalism in response to challenges that appeared to threaten the survival of the system.

Some of the most important of those challenges have come from social movements struggling to ameliorate the worst impacts of capitalism on workers. Those struggles have not been easy. Even simple changes like the abolition of child labor or the adoption of the eight-hour workday required the power of massive social mobilization and the willingness of people to die.

If we want our grandchildren to have a livable planet, it’s time to stop fetishizing “economics” as a God-given set of rules and get on with the political process of eliminating rules that aren’t working and enacting rules that better serve the coming generations.

We are quite aware that our increasingly sclerotic electoral and legislative processes have engendered deep feelings of cynicism, feelings that in turn depress all efforts for political change.

However, even a quick look at history shows example after example of huge changes that took place even as prognosticators of the status quo had insisted for decades that nothing could change.

U.S. intelligence agencies and academics alike failed to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. Apartheid in South Africa would never end. Ten years ago, who would have predicted that same-sex marriage would be so widely accepted today?

Our challenge is to invent and adopt an economics of stewardship that embraces the concept of continuous environmental improvement. Call it regenerative capitalism.

It’s really not that difficult to think of some straightforward laws that would push us in this direction. All we have to do is leverage the creative energies at the core of the market-economy model to kick off a virtuous cycle of improvement.

To take a simple example, we know that one of the reasons the investment banks almost took down the global economy was because the Glass-Steagall Act that limited their activities was repealed in 1999. Restoring it would not, by itself, restore the system that existed in 1999, but it would create the kind of inhibition on unprincipled risk-taking we want our financial system to have.

To take another long-discussed example, Nobel-Prize-winning economist James Tobin started calling decades ago for a tiny tax on all financial transactions, which would both restrain traders and generate more than enough money to provide every human being with decent food, housing, health care and education.


Re: A flaw in the design

[Note: This comment comes from a reader of Dave Farber’s IP List. DLH]

From: Karl Auerbach <>
Date: Saturday, May 30, 2015
Subject: [IP] Net of insecurity

A flaw in the design
The Internet’s founders saw its promise but didn’t foresee users attacking one another
By Craig Timberg
May 30 2015

I find the article incomplete.

From about 1972 through 1980 I was at SDC – System Development Corporation – working on secure operating systems and networks. We started with the NCP model – and quickly discovered how layer violations, like RFNM (Request for Next Message), made end-to-end protection really hard. However, we were fairly early to the TCP world – way back before IP was split off. I remember back in 1974/1975 working on ideas that pried the datagram layer (not yet named IP) off the bottom of TCP so that we could insert a protective, access controlled security layer in the middle.

We did things that were very much in the line of what would become IPSec and PKI (but without the “P”), and formal verification and capability hardware/software architectures. We worked on approaches that used centralized mother-may-I controls and more systems in which information was tagged and channeled so that decisions about handling could be decentralized with each node trusted to properly apply security policy.

But a great deal of this work was hidden, and remains hidden. Some of the work was classified. Some was technically open but done with groups that tend to refrain from open publication, such as the RSRE in the UK. And much of the rest of the work vanished into the pre-digital paper files of government bodies such as NBS/NIST, and others in that part of the country.

The thrust of the article suggests that we didn’t do much about network security back in the 1970’s because we were too busy trying to get the basics to work. That’s not quite accurate – we did a lot with security. But a cone of silence was lowered – perhaps properly so on some of the work – and the world has had to re-discover these ideas decades later when the skeleton of the internet had already congealed, making retrofits much harder.

To get a full history of security and the internet one needs to dig into the work that was done at places like SDC, Mitre, and RSRE (and some unnamed US government agencies.)


Re: Some thoughts on Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) for future radio

[Note: This comment comes from friend Peter Ecclesine. DLH

From: “Peter Ecclesine (pecclesi)” <>
Subject: RE: [Dewayne-Net] Some thoughts on Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) for future radio
Date: May 31, 2015 at 06:58:50 EDT
To: Hendricks Dewayne <>

Hi Dewayne,

the math boiled down shows nothing that already isn’t included in MIMO capacity calculations. The rotational (spin) of any wave can be decomposed into vertical and horizontal basis functions, how many orthogonal basis functions exist determine capacity (spatially these are the Eigen-modes / vectors of the channel which you can get with vertical/horizontal polarization), doing the spin at the antenna at different orthogonal frequencies is equivalent to moving the OFDM subcarrier coding (IFFT) to the antenna but you still only have 2 orthogonal propagation basis (modes, call them whatever) which are vertical and horizontal. He essentially has a different subcarrier because to get the spin at a new frequency he modulates the vertical & horizontal modes with sin(wc*t) & cos(wc*t).


Some thoughts on Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) for future radio
By David Reed
May 29 2015

Emergent Value

[Note: This item comes from friend Judi Clark. DLH]

Emergent Value
A Report on the Internet of People
By Henrik Chulu
May 28 2015

This report is primarily about positive externalities, i.e. the value created outside traditional organizational boundaries. The core underlying argument is that supporting communities, empowering users and contributing to the commons is essential for value creation within the organizations themselves.

We have condensed a year of thinking and experiences into three short acts, each of which have chapters constructed in such a way, that they can be read on their own and not just cover to cover.

Open Source Design

»… before attempting to create something new, it is vital to have a good appreciation of everything that already exists in this field.« — Mikhail Kalashnikov

The Kalashnikov is the most widely available weapon system in the world. Being extremely reliable, it can be fired even when covered in mud or sand, and it is easy to strip down and maintain. Besides its reliability however, it is not a particularly good firearm compared to more advanced and accurate assault rifles.

Its massive proliferation is not a result of the brilliance of its designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov, but of its cost of production. A brand new model from a Russian factory costs roughly the same as an iPhone, and in certain African markets you can find knock-offs at the price of the cheapest Nokia. There is a reason for this affordability: When the Soviet Union chose Kalashnikov’s design they made it available free of licenses and patents to allies and client states the world over.


A flaw in the design

A flaw in the design
The Internet’s founders saw its promise but didn’t foresee users attacking one another
By Craig Timberg
May 30 2015

David D. Clark, an MIT scientist whose air of genial wisdom earned him the nickname “Albus Dumbledore,” can remember exactly when he grasped the Internet’s dark side. He was presiding over a meeting of network engineers when news broke that a dangerous computer worm — the first to spread widely — was slithering across the wires.

One of the engineers, working for a leading computer company, piped up with a claim of responsibility for the security flaw that the worm was exploiting. “Damn,” he said. “I thought I had fixed that bug.”

But as the attack raged in November 1988, crashing thousands of machines and causing millions of dollars in damage, it became clear that the failure went beyond a single man. The worm was using the Internet’s essential nature — fast, open and frictionless — to deliver malicious code along computer lines designed to carry harmless files or e-mails.

Decades later, after hundreds of billions of dollars spent on computer security, the threat posed by the Internet seems to grow worse each year. Where hackers once attacked only computers, the penchant for destruction has now leapt beyond the virtual realm to threaten banks, retailers, government agencies, a Hollywood studio and, experts worry, critical mechanical systems in dams, power plants and aircraft.

These developments, though perhaps inevitable in hindsight, have shocked many of those whose work brought the network to life, they now say. Even as scientists spent years developing the Internet, few imagined how popular and essential it would become. Fewer still imagined that eventually it would be available for almost anybody to use, or to misuse.

“It’s not that we didn’t think about security,” Clark recalled. “We knew that there were untrustworthy people out there, and we thought we could exclude them.”

How wrong they were. What began as an online community for a few dozen researchers now is accessible to an estimated 3 billion people. That’s roughly the population of the entire planet in the early 1960s, when talk began of building a revolutionary new computer network.

Those who helped design this network over subsequent decades focused on the technical challenges of moving information quickly and reliably. When they thought about security, they foresaw the need to protect the network against potential intruders or military threats, but they didn’t anticipate that the Internet’s own users would someday use the network to attack one another.

“We didn’t focus on how you could wreck this system intentionally,” said Vinton G. Cerf, a dapper, ebullient Google vice president who in the 1970s and ’80s designed key building blocks of the Internet. “You could argue with hindsight that we should have, but getting this thing to work at all was non-trivial.”

Those involved from the early days — what might be called the network’s founding generation — bristle at the notion that they somehow could have prevented today’s insecurity, as if road designers are responsible for highway robbery or urban planners for muggings. These pioneers often say that online crime and aggression are the inevitable manifestation of basic human failings, beyond easy technological solutions.

“I believe that we don’t know how to solve these problems today, so the idea that we could have solved them 30, 40 years ago is silly,” said David H. Crocker, who started working on computer networking in the early 1970s and helped develop modern e-mail systems.

Yet 1988’s attack by the “Morris Worm” — named for Robert T. Morris, the Cornell University graduate student who created it — was a wake-up call for the Internet’s architects, who had done their original work in an era before smartphones, before cybercafes, before even the widespread adoption of the personal computer. The attack sparked both rage that a member of their community would harm the Internet and alarm that the network was so vulnerable to misdeeds by an insider.

When NBC’s “Today” aired an urgent report on the worm’s rampage, it became clear that the Internet and its problems were destined to outgrow the idealistic world of scientists and engineers — what Cerf fondly recalled as “a bunch of geeks who didn’t have any intention of destroying the network.”

But the realization came too late. The Internet’s founding generation was no longer in charge. Nobody really was. Those with dark intentions would soon find the Internet well suited to their goals, allowing fast, easy, inexpensive ways to reach anyone or anything on the network. Soon enough, that would come to include much of the planet.


Startup uses big data as a crystal ball: it “knows” when unusual events happen

[Note: This item comes from friend Judi Clark. DLH]

Startup uses big data as a crystal ball: it “knows” when unusual events happen
By Patrick Hoge
May 27 2015

Only seven minutes after the fatal Amtrak train derailing in Philadelphia this month, the Redwood City technology startup Banjo’s global monitoring software grabbed a social media post by a passenger reporting the crash and tied it to a football field-sized area of land.

Banjo’s system “knew” the crash was out of the norm for that piece of land, and the company quickly notified its customer, the local NBC affiliate, which was then able to break the news just 10 minutes later. NBC posted images and video of dazed and bloodied passengers from inside the train.

“For us, it’s changed the way that we cover breaking news,” said David Chang, a content producer with NBC 10 Philadelphia. It’s a tool Chang expects to soon become widespread at news organizations. The Amtrak story is just one of many where Banjo has played an important role for Chang’s station over the last year.

News gathering is just one of countless business sectors where Banjo’s “crystal ball” capability of organizing real time data by location and time can be lifesaving or profitable, according to founder and CEO Damien Patton. Think financial services (say, secretive hedge funds, maybe?), logistics or disaster response.

“Banjo is gathering all the real time social and digital signals around the world and making sense of them,” said Patton. The company has defined 35 billion football field-sized plots of land around the world, but Patton promises that by the end of the year his company will have divided the entire earth into even smaller sections. Each will be roughly the size of a family automobile. “Today, we process one quadrillion computations per 10 seconds,” he said.

That’s why five-year-old Banjo was able recently to raise a $100 million third funding round, bringing its total take from investors to $121 million.

Patton, a resident of Las Vegas who commutes to Banjo’s Redwood City headquarters multiple times a week, is a self-taught computer programmer and data savant who in an earlier life managed to become chief mechanic of Lowe’s NASCAR racing team without any formal training. He is a veteran of several startups with a penchant for driving vehicles at high speeds through the desert. He has a 2013 patent to his name concerning discovery of social media data using time and geolocation tags from mobile devices.

The idea for Banjo emerged from Patton’s frustration over missing a friend who had served with him in Desert Storm while both were in an airport, unbeknownst to each other.

“I was —-ed off that I had missed a good friend and there was no technology that could have solved that for us,” Patton said.

The company earlier released a consumer app, but its focus has since shifted to serving a select and soon to grow group of paying businesses.

With the recently announced funding round, Patton says he is looking to hire the best data scientists in the world to build on the core technology that he has assembled. Banjo is doing some of the most advanced work on image and video content recognition using something called “convolutional neural networks,” he said.


Silicon Valley’s secret: Startups in the U.S. are in long-term decline

Silicon Valley’s secret: Startups in the U.S. are in long-term decline
May 30 2015

If you read the headlines in the tech press, you might reasonably assume that every 20-something in America is somehow launching an Uber or Snapchat-inspired startup — and magically receiving billions in venture financing.

Not so.

Entrepreneurship is finally on the upswing again in the U.S. — but it still has a long way to go to reach pre-recession levels.

Last year, 310 adults out of every 100,000 launched a new business on average each month in the U.S., compared to an average of 280 entrepreneurs per month in the year prior, according to new data from the Kauffman Foundation, which tracks entrepreneurship by city.

That marked the largest year-over-year surge in new startup activity in two decades, reflecting broader improvements in the labor market and stock market.

Before you throw a celebratory party with startup swag, consider the following statement from Dane Stangler, Kauffman’s VP of research and policy: “It’s important to view this short-term uptick in context of the bigger picture – we are still in a long-term decline of activity.”

The dual scourges of student loan debt and household debt continue to hold back many would-be entrepreneurs from taking the risk of starting a new business of their own.